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John Barnard Whittaker (American, 1836 - 1926) Grandfather's Story, oil on canvas, signed, ca. late 19th century,

John Barnard Whittaker (American, 1836 - 1926) Grandfather's Story, oil on canvas, signed, ca. late 19th century,

Item Description:

Signed lower right, in a giltwood frame


Hole in canvas lower right approximately 2 cm., seven repairs to canvas visible on reverse, minor inpainting, craquelure overall. Please contact for specific condition questions and to request a full condition report. Not examined out of the frame.


Gift to a family member of the current owner, ca. early 1900s

Inherited by descent


Sight: Height 65 in. x Width 55 in. (sight)

Frame: Height 81 in. x Width 66 in.

About The Artist:

John Barnard Whittaker was born at Templemore, Tipperary County, Ireland on August 16, 1836. Famine and rebellion forced the family to emigrate and they arrived in Brooklyn in 1848. John attended Public School No. 1 for a few months before, at the age of twelve, he went to work helping his father, Benjamin, a decorator, grainer, and watercolor artist who first taught him how to paint. After this he studied at the National Academy of Design for a short time under Thomas Seir Cummings, vice president and one of the founders of the academy. In 1862 he attended classes at the Graham Art School in Brooklyn.

Between 1859 and 1892, seventy-eight of Whittaker's pictures were exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association. By 1866 Whittaker was teaching at the Graham Art School. He was instrumental in organizing the Brooklyn Academy of Design, which opened the following year and with which the Graham Art School merged, and he was one of its first teachers, remaining at the new school until it closed in 1872. In the same year Adelphi Academy opened an art department with Ferdinand T. Lee Boyle as director, known primarily as a portrait painter.

When Boyle resigned in 1875 Whittaker became head of the department and held his position for forty-one years, until his retirement in June 1916 at the age of eighty. Whittaker was very active in the Brooklyn art community, he was among the founders of the (Brooklyn) Sketch Club (1857), the Brooklyn Art Social (1859), the Brooklyn Art Association (1860), and the Brooklyn Academy of Design (1867) In the summer of 1887 he visited Paris and Munich and when he returned, arranged an exhibition of studies, drawings, and photographs from the foreign schools and galleries and in 1889 he was among the group who promoted the creation of "an Art Museum for the benefit of the whole city" of Brooklyn.

Whittaker's first wife, with whom he had four sons and two daughters with, died in 1889. He remarried in 1893 to Mary A. Wood, who had been an art teacher in the Adelphi Academy drawing department of the elementary school since 1885 and was his assistant in the art school. She continued teaching at the academy until her retirement in 1915.

After his retirement he devoted more time to painting and did so until his death on September 24, 1926, at the age of ninety.
An obituary mentioned fifty notable artists who studied under Whittaker, those included George Inness Jr., Frank C. Boggs, William Ordway Partridge, Frederick MacMonnies, and Guy Wiggins.

Clark S. Marlor, "John Barnard Whittaker, Brooklyn Artist" Antiques, November 1971

A portrait of "Professor J.B. Whittaker" painted ca. 1920 by Alexandrina Robertson Harris hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.


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John Barnard Whittaker (American, 1836 - 1926) Grandfather's Story, oil on canvas, signed, ca. late 19th century,

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